Beneath These Scars

When young Hartley Campbell realizes her parents spend her University money she is livid. They had one job... to save the money her grandfather left for her to attend Harvard University. With too many dreams to give up on, she decides there is only one way to save enough money and that is to make a man fall crazy, deeply in love with her and use him to pay for it.

Tycoon Harry Styles is known as the "mysterious CEO of Beckett publishing" After a dramatic accident he is left with deep mental and physical scars which make it hard for him to open up to anyone. Yet, too many years of being alone bring out a craving for the right woman to give him one night where he isn't tormented by the past. When his best friend tells him about a secret website where he can stay anonymous and have fun he can't let it past by. Carson decides to go ahead with it only to his surprise the website isn't all what it seems.


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2. 2❀The cure

Monday morning I wake up stress. It has been two long days─ that's how long it has been since I made the stupid Cryptic messages profile. At the time it made complete sense to me─ find an older man and make him fall in love; then ask him to pay for the education I deserve. The education my parents took away from me the moment they spend the money my grandfather had left for me in his will. They took away the one chance I have to better myself and get out of Chicago.

I thought my plan would work. That it would be easy to find a lonely man who would want to talk to me. I even took a sexy picture to go with my awesome profile. Perhaps I underestimated the situation? Taking a deep breath, I put my things into my locker and head towards my English class. I'm too disappointed and miserable to even be here, but then again being anywhere is better than being home right now. I can't even look at my parents without having murderous feelings.

As I arrive at the classroom my eyes catch Paisley my best friend sitting in her usual spot. She is wearing a pretty pink dress with white wedges. Her purple hair is up into a ponytail and her makeup is done to perfection─ which is no surprise, she has always been one to look amazing. I stare at her for a minute, she is so different from me. I have always wonder why we are even friends; she is a girly girl and I in the other hand wear black most days and enjoy the dark side of life. I guess you can say we are complete opposite.

"Hartley," She beams as she sees me walking through the doorway. I head to the spot next to her and sit down.

"Where is Mr. Rodriguez?" I ask her. He is never one to be late. I'm usually the one who is late. Yet, today I am not. That makes me a bit happy.

"He is running late." She shrugs her shoulders, "So... what happened with the whole 'Cryptic messages' profile'" She looks at me waiting for an answer.

"It flopped." I place my face on my hands embarrassed. I should have listen to her and not have made the profile to begin with. But then I never thought it was going to be a complete waste of my time.

"It's fine. I'm sure you will figure out another way to get the money." She gently touches my arm and reassures me. That's one thing Paisley is good at, comforting people.

I half smile at her, "I really hope so. I don't want to miss out on Harvard." I openly tell her. The University of Harvard has been my dream since I was a little girl. My grandfather had known this and had saved every penny he could for a long time, just to make my dreams come true. It kills me that I won't be able to do so. That I will never be able to be the person he pictured. I attempt to calm myself before I cry.

"I should probably just delete the profile." I tell her as I pull my cell phone out of my purse. I quickly open the Cryptic messages app and begin to look for the delete profile button. As I search around I notice a number 1 in red in the message box. Did someone really reach out to me?

As fast as my fingers will let me, I press the button and the message opens. I look at Paisley and back at the screen. She moves her chair closer to me and we are soon reading the message.

Ace: Dear Scarlett, I love your sense of humor. I too know how to tie my own shoes and enjoy the smell of coffee in the morning. You sound young or maybe you are just young at heart? Still, you sound like a very interesting, fun young woman. I was wondering if you would you like to chat? I understand if you don't. I bet you have a lot of guys after you.

Until we talk again. Ace.

I quickly head to his profile, but I'm surprised when I don't find a picture of him. I Instead find a picture of a grey question mark in a white background. I wonder why he doesn't have a picture of himself? Maybe he is too ugly and doesn't want anyone to see him? I roll my eyes annoyed and head to his about me. Yet, that is empty too. Who doesn't have a picture or an about me? My hopes of this working out once again disappear.

He must just be a weird boy trying to get me to talk to him or he would actually take the time to put a picture up. I move my finger to the delete button and press it. When it asks me if I am sure I decide to not delete it just yet and press cancel.

"Good morning everyone sorry I'm late." Professor Rodriguez walks into the class and I quickly shut my phone not wanting it taken away. "Let's pick up where we left yesterday."

I take out my book and get my head back into my studies after all I still want to attend Harvard.

☆☆☆

Walking into the cafeteria I can't help but continue to think about the message. I can't believe that only one person has reached out to me. I can't help but feel like I'm ugly. Perhaps I should just give up and move on from this dream? I reach in for a chocolate chip cookie and decide to also get cheese fries. I am way too depressed not to eat junky. I pay for my food and head towards the tables.

"Hartley... Hartley." Paisley shouts trying to get my attention. She looks excited and I smile. Why is she always in a good mood?

"Hey." I place my food tray on the table and sit down.

"Come on spill the beans." She giggles excited.

"What?" I ask confused.

"You know what!" She looks at me with her big green eyes.

I raise my eyebrow and look at her like she is crazy.

"Did you answer the message?" She's finally making sense.

"No. I don't think I'm going to. What if he is a serial killer, who preys on girls through the Internet?"

"Or maybe he just wants to remain private." Paisley says and I think about it. "What if he doesn't want anyone he knows knowing he is looking through a website like that." She adds. "That could be embarrassing for some people."

Thinking about it maybe Paisley is right. I shouldn't assume things until I know more. With that I decide I do in fact want to know more about him. I grab my cell phone and look at the message again. I begin to write a message back, but delete it ten times before I come up with something I like.

Scarlett: I'm glad you enjoy my humor and the lovely smell of coffee. Why don't you have any pictures?

I sent it. What's the harm, right? If he acts weird I block him and never speak of this website ever again. On the other hand, I really hope he's not a creeper. Biting my lip, I hope for the best outcome.

☆☆☆

I gaze at the brown and white house before me with outrage. I wish I didn't have to ever come back to it. My grandfather would be devastated if he knew where the hard-earned money he had saved for me ended. I close my hands into a fist and fight the urge to punch something.

As I finally decide to walk towards my house. My parents cars are in the driveway and I know that means they are home. I haven't talked to them since the big quarrel we had about the money they spend. I can still recall the words they said. How they didn't think I would actually want to go to University and that they didn't think I would really get in.

I don't have the foggiest idea about what's most exceedingly awful, that they thought I wouldn't get in, or that I wouldn't have any desire to do anything with my life. I shake the irritation and go to the back door─ Sneaking in, I go to my room thankful that I don't need to address them. Tossing my bag along the floor, I tumble down on my bed and grab my cell phone from my pocket. I rapidly look through it. I wonder if Ace answer my message already?

I smile when I see that he has and quickly open it.

Ace: I like my privacy. In my field of work that is very important.

I wonder where he works? He must be important if something like joining a website for dating is a big deal.

Scarlett: Is that also why you don't have an about me? Are you afraid someone you know will recognize you?

I finally ask him the question I have been wondering about. I genuinely want to know what he looks like.

Ace: Isn't me being Mysterious exciting?... You are a very curious woman.

I smile. I do like the mystery behind him. I question what he is really like? I draw my hair up into a ponytail and think of something else to ask him. If he won't show me a picture, then I will need details to imagine him.

Scarlett: How about you answer a few questions?

As I sent that a knock at the door suddenly startles me. I put my phone down, "Go away."

"Hartley, we need to talk." My mother shouts at me. "You can't continue to hide in here."

"Yes, I can." I yell back at her.

"Fine. Stay in there! You will come out when you are hungry." She says and storms off.

"No... I... Won't." I grab my pillow and scream into it. If only I had money I would move out and never talk to them again. Wanting to get my mind off my problems I reach for my phone and read my new message from Ace.

Ace: How about 5 questions?

I decide to grab my laptop. I have a few questions to ask and it's easier than trying to type them on my crappy phone. Quickly turning it on, I open the website and begin to think about what I want to ask him. I write and rewrite questions until I am happy with what I have.

Scarlett: 1. What color are your eyes?

2. Long or short hair? Color?

3. Tall or short?

4. Is your name really Ace?

5. What's your deepest secret?

I bite my lip and sit waiting impatiently for the answers to my questions. I know we just started talking and I don't know anything about him, but I feel excited every time he answers me and I crave to know more about him as the minute's pass by. I smile excited when his message comes in.

Ace: 1. My eyes are a light shade of green.

2. Copper brown, Short hair.

3. Some people would say I'm tall.

4. Is yours really Scarlett?

5. If I told you, I would have to kill you;-)

I laugh. Did he lie about his name too? I begin to write him back only to stop when I receive another message from him.

Ace: I'm about to head into a meeting. Can we talk later Scarlett? (if that's even your name)

Until later. Ace.

A meeting? does that mean he is a business man? I close my laptop and smile like crazy. I wonder what his real name is? I also want to know if he is good looking? I close my eyes and picture a man with light green eyes and copper brown, short hair. Is he too good to be true? Will this man be able to help me achieve my biggest dream of attending Harvard or am I getting myself into a situation I shouldn't? Grabbing the package from beside my lap-top, I look at the acceptance letter and the due date and know I don't have another choice. Yet, I pray that I won't go to hell for what I'm about to do to this man.

 

 

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